Twitter
Facebook

 

 

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

    

"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Entries in Writer (26)

Monday
Apr172017

Call Answered: Tom Malloy: "Fair Haven" and "Midtown"

Tom Malloy, Photo Credit: Birdie ThompsonIt's always exciting when an interview I did with one person leads to an interview with another. It was because of my interview with Fair Haven filmmaker Kerstin Karlhuber, that I found my way to actor/writer/producer Tom Malloy, who produced and co-starred in the film.

It was great getting to learn more about Fair Haven from Tom (a film about a young man who returns to his family farm, after a long stay in ex-gay conversion therapy, and is torn between the expectations of his emotionally distant father, and the memories of a past, loving relationship he has tried to bury) as well as all the intricacies of his career including the other films/TV shows he has produced/starred in, including the Amazon comedy series Midtown (co-created with his friend stand-up comedian Scott Baker) about the banter that happens between cops.

For more on Tom be sure to visit http://tommalloy.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

1. After my interview with Kerstin Karlhuber, I am so excited to have the chance to speak with you! So, let's start with Fair Haven, which you produced and co-star in. What attracted you to this story? Why did you want to produce the film & co-star in the film, as opposed to just one or the other? What were some of the challenges of being both producer and actor? From the moment I read it, I thought the quality of the screenplay was top-notch. I was attracted to the project because it was such a sweet story, a story of a father and his son, and, at the end of the day, was all about love.

Kerstin asked me to produce, and she wanted to shoot it in Vermont. I initially turned it down because I didn’t have the bandwidth to get away and didn’t want to be away from my kids for too long. But then I called her back and asked if she’d be able to shoot in Rochester, NY, where I have a lot of family, and the rest is history.

As for producing, almost all of the projects I’m involved in have me as an actor somewhere. I believe, in 14 films, I’ve only not played a role twice. Acting is still my greatest passion. On set, with a film like this, since I was the sole producer, I only took a small role, a day-player type role. I believe I shot for 2-3 days. That’s the only way to do both. In the films (like Love N’ Dancing or The Alphabet Killer), where I was the lead role, I was lucky enough to have other producers involved who were able to cover for me!

2. In addition to Fair Haven, you also star in and co-write/produce the comedy series Midtown on Amazon, which is the brainchild of you and former NYPD Cop/current stand-up comedian Scott Baker...about the banter that happens between cops. First of all, how did you and Scott come to know each other and how soon after did you go, we should create this show? What do you love about working with Scott? Do you have any real life cop stories you can share with us? Scott and I met on the set of the movie Anger Management, with Adam Sandler. We were both playing NY Yankees in that movie, no lines. He and I hit it off right away, and the banter you see on Midtown is the exact banter between us in real life! We just play off each other so well, which is why I love working with him.

My favorite times are when I throw something out comedy-wise, and he picks up on it and throws it back to me. That’s when I know we’re in total comedy synergy on stage or in the show…which is completely improvised.

As for real-life cop stories, Scott wrote the book The Funniest Cop Stories Ever, which were true stories of the NYPD, so he’d be a better one to ask!

3. Who or what inspired you to become an actor, writer, producer? I remember when I first came up with that concept, around 2004. I told my agent at the time that I was going to be an actor/writer/producer, and she told me I was foolish to not focus on one of them. I claim that the same agent today is telling her actors: "You need to be all three." So much has changed with the business, and I have so many actor friends out of work or taking jobs in other industries because they can only do one thing. Being a "triple-hyphenate" has allowed me to not work anywhere outside the business and thrive! Plus, intrinsically, I’m an action-oriented person, so sitting around was never an option. I always just wanted to create my own projects.

4. Another film you starred in is Hero of the Underworld, where you play the overnight manager of an upscale hotel who takes it upon himself to become the savior of a guest who's been nearly beaten to death by her boyfriend. There is a line I love in the trailer that says "Every man gets a chance to be a hero or a coward." When in your life have you been the hero and when have you been a coward? Yes, I love that movie and it was based on true events. But good question about hero/coward. I’ve played the hero many times, I believe…broken up fights, helped people on the street, etc.  As for coward, I can’t think of the last time where I really felt that way. I try to live my life with the "no should’ves" rule. I never want to walk away and think "I should have done that," or "I should have said that." Not to say that I don’t get scared! I have tons of fear, but I just NEVER let it stop me. That’s a key to success right there…never let fear get in the way. Accept the fear and just do it anyway!

Tom Malloy5. You are also starring in the upcoming series Dropping The Soap with Jane Lynch, which is a behind-the-scenes look at a failing soap opera. With all the shows and films you've been in, what is the juiciest behind-the-scenes story you can tell us from a project you just knew was not going to do well? Such a great show, so ridiculously funny! I’m so proud of the show. I knew from the moment I watched it that it was going to be a hit. As for juicy stories, those would have to be after the premiere because my distribution company (Glass House Distribution) acquired the series after it was finished.

6. Let's just play with the show's title for a moment...If you were to "Drop the soap," what would you hope to find after you picked it up? Hopefully not a naked guy behind me in a prison shower. I think that’s where that expression came from!

7. You got to work with one of my idols...Betty White! What was that experience like? What did you learn from her? That was the highlight of my career so far!. She was so incredible…everyone on set immediately wanted her to be their grandma! 

As for learning something, it was just great to watch her have fun! A lot of times actors take life too seriously, and she was having fun with her lines and that was so great to watch. So I guess the lesson there is to have fun with your performance, and the audience has fun with you.

Jack Black & Tom Malloy at the Renal Support Network annual Charity Poker and Bingo Tournament8. When you are not acting, you enjoy playing Celebrity Poker Tournaments and participating in the West Coast Swing Dancing competitions. In poker, the highest win is a Royal Flush. What, in your career thus far, would you consider to be a Royal Flush? And when was a time you were like, "I fold"? Yes, I LOVE poker. A Royal Flush in my career would be the first day we started shooting Love N’ Dancing. That movie was a nightmare to get going, and it was such an accomplishment to actually make it happen. I’m still hurting that it didn’t become a major hit, and I’m developing a new dance film/romantic comedy that I hope to produce and star in this year.

As for, "I fold," that would have to be the time I had all this money from Beijing to shoot three movies and the people funding it just disappeared. I was in the middle of shooting a film, and, though I was able to finish it, the money was gone. I had to shut down production offices and let people go…a nightmare!

9. What do you feel the rhythm of dancing has taught you about the rhythm of life? Again, I think the intrinsic lesson is to have fun. Your body stores so much of your emotion, and expressing emotions through movement is a fantastic feeling.

10. As an actor who has be interviewed time and time again, what is one question I didn't ask that you wish I had (and please provide the answer to that question)? Q: What’s an important lesson you teach your kids?

A: Never grow up. Always have the innocence and wonder and joy and laughter of life to keep you going. People who "grow up" are just beat down from society and negative reinforcement, and imposed "rules." I’m still a kid and will never change that.

11. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? My goal is to start drilling down my focus as specific as possible. Sometimes I get spread too thin, and I have to keep telling myself not to say yes to everything coming at me because then I won’t be able to truly be 100%. So I’m going to focus more and more everyday!

Tom MalloyMore on Tom:

An award winning and critically acclaimed actor, Tom wowed Hollywood with his stunning turn in the indie-cult favorite GRAVESEND in 1998, which was produced by Oliver Stone.

Most recent films include: SCREAMERS (Coming Fall 2017), HERO OF THE UNDERWORLD (on VOD everywhere) directed by John Vincent, starring Tom, Nicole Fox, and Quinton Aaron (for this film, Tom won BEST ACTOR at the Chain NYC Film Festival, and BEST ACTOR at AC Cinefest, FAIR HAVEN (Coming to SHOWTIME Summer 2017) directed by Kerstin Karlhuber, starring Tom Wopat and Michael Grant, ASHLEY, directed by Dean Ronalds, which was in theaters in 2013, and is now on VOD, LOVE N’ DANCING, which was directed by Rob Iscove (She’s All That), and stars Amy Smart, Tom Malloy, Billy Zane, Rachel Dratch, and Betty White; the psychological thriller THE ALPHABET KILLER, directed by Rob Schmidt (Wrong Turn, Crime & Punishment in Suburbia) and stars Eliza Dushku, Cary Elwes, Tom Malloy, Timothy Hutton, Michael Ironside, and Oscar Winner Melissa Leo; and a thriller directed by Mary Lambert called THE ATTIC, starring John Savage, Malloy, and Elisabeth Moss.

Tom is currently starring with Comedian Scott Baker in the improv cop comedy MIDTOWN, which can be seen on Amazon, now in it's second season.

Tom is a graduate of the famous Improv Olympic (IO) Training Center in Los Angeles (former graduates include Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Steve Carrell). Tom has also appeared in principle roles on LAW & ORDER, THIRD WATCH, KIDNAPPED, THE SIEGE (with Denzel Washington) and ANGER MANAGEMENT. As a Stand Up Comic, Tom has appeared at Caroline's Comedy Club and the Broadway Comedy Club in NYC, and at the LA Improv.

In addition to his work as an actor, Tom is an accomplished author whose book BANKROLL: A New Approach to Financing Feature Films is considered the "gold standard" of indie film financing instruction. A second edition came out in 2012.

Tom has also competed and taught classes in the smooth, hip-hop dance style known as West Coast Swing. He was trained by seven time U.S. Open Champion Robert Royston.

Tom has trained for years in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, first training with Royce Gracie back in 1992, prior the UFC even existing! He currently trains in Beverly Hills with the legendary Rigan Machado. He is also a professional poker player, and for over a year was one of the highest ranked celebrity players on the now defunct MegaFrame Casino.

Finally, Tom worked for 10 years as a nationally known motivational speaker for adults and kids. He traveled across the country spreading his positive message to students of all ages. Over the years, he has spoken to more than 100,000 students.

Tuesday
Apr042017

Call Answered: Adrienne Truscott: THIS at New York Live Arts

Adrienne Truscott, Photo Credit: Richard HardcastleIt's taken me almost two years to make this interview with Adrienne Truscott happen, but I am beyond thrilled to finally have the chance to sit down with her. Adrienne first came on my radar with her one-woman show Asking For It, a show about the rules and rhetoric about rape, comedy and the awkward laughs in between. When I first heard about this show, I, like most people, didn't know what to make of it, so I pushed it off. Well, after seeing it come back around a few more times, I decided to open my mind and go see it. It was one of the best evenings I had ever attended. Adrienne had found a way to bring some humor and laughs to a very tough subject. I left that evening having the upmost respect for Adrienne, her comedy style, and braveness in tackling a subject such as rape.

So when I heard that Adrienne was developing a new show, you bet my ears perked up and I jumped at the chance to interview her. Adrienne's new show THIS is a solo performance which may not always be a solo, created specifically for Live Arts stage. THIS is a small or large or medium act of artistic survivalism and an ever-evolving work that writes, in real time, the libretto of the performance the artist is attempting to do which changes with each performance to reflect the new context brought by the performance at hand. THIS is a run-on sentence. THIS is a grift. THIS is a piece of cake.

THIS will be performed at New York Live Arts (219 West 19th Street) from April 5-8 at 7:30pm! Click here for tickets!

For more on Adrienne be sure to visit http://www.adriennetruscott.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Adrienne Truscott, Photo Credit: Carmine Covelli1. It's so great to finally get to interview you after seeing your show Asking For It. It was so good and I hope it comes back around again. But, we're here to talk about your new show THIS. THIS is an ever-evolving work that writes, in real time, changing with each performance. What made you want to have a show that changes with every performance as opposed to Asking For It, which had a more firm script? Well, it was actually that I was focusing on writing stuff that seemed more appropriate for the page than the stage, but I wanted to find out more about what I was writing, so I just gave myself the rule that since I had started this new writing focus, anytime I was asked to do something, I'd do this new written material - that was still developing - wherever I was asked to see how it behaved in different contexts or venues. To date, I've done it as a seven-minute spot in a performance series, as an hour-long "cabaret" show behind a piano (I don't play piano), as a sort of diplomatic artist's address at the Australian Consulate. So it sort of takes the shape of it's container, and it is sort of always in process. So now, at NYLA, it has to figure out how to behave in a big performance space which comes with a whole other set of institutional expectations, audience tropes, etc. Really, it's just me writing a book, but putting that process on stage or something.

2. What challenges does this style of show present for you? What freedoms does it give you? It allows me to play around with form and context, which is really what I'm interested in. And the writing is a lot about the slipperiness between fact and fiction, time and presence - from a vantage point of memory and competing narratives, attention, and other things. I find my memory of things and time are quite challenged from moving around a lot, some childhood dramas and traumas, etc. And I've only recently begun remembering lots of things. I've been finding that writing clarifies memories and sometimes is the key act that helps excavate them. I think the same is true of performance - it educates you about yourself - even when the work isn't autobiographical or if it's really abstract. That can be a bit beautiful and also a little scary. But I have the freedom to choose what writing is included as I continue to write - because the piece is more about form, content, structure and attention. It's also been interesting processing the difference between events you are certain have happened and events that just have vague memories or details attached to them in the current political climate of "fake facts." Plus, it's just been really hard for me to focus on artistic stuff because I sort of at the moment, just wish I was a lawyer or a journalist!

Adrienne Truscott, Photo Credit: Ian Douglas, Courtesy Movement Research3. You just came back from performing THIS in Australia. What did you learn from doing these shows that will enhance your upcoming NYLA run? I think the main thing I'm learning is how to make writing that was meant more to be read work on stage. And how much - as a theater piece instead - I can use the craft of theater and performance to assist in that, and play around with what's real or not, "true" or not, present or past. In Australia we did the piece in a tiny funny little makeshift "theater" - a room with a "stage" and two lights at a festival with 15 minutes to bump in. NYLA is a huge huge space - not a space I would originally choose to do a solo in, but that's how this particular project worked out timing-wise and stuff. So I was also trying to learn about how a sort of intimate personal piece would work in a huge space for NY audiences during a time of insanely preoccupying political upheaval by doing it in a tiny room in a pop-up venue in the basement of an abandoned postal building for gregarious Australians! What I learned is to let the piece adjust itself to the context. Thankfully, I am working (for the first time) with an amazing director called Ellie Heyman, and she has been helping it have a shape and structure. It's ironic to be an artist in NYC and find yourself with "too much" space.

4. In Asking For It, you had a lot of audience interaction and in THIS, is sounds like you will have a similar interaction if not more with the audience. Hmmm, I actually think I'll have less interaction with the audience in THIS. It's not confrontational like Asking For It, and although there is stand-up in it, it sort of understands itself as a piece for a proscenium stage and fixed audience. But usually I do like to fuck around with the audience. I learned it more from street performing and bringing people up onstage in that context - it's a really strong trope in street performing. I guess I love that the audience is always included in a live show, even if they are just sitting. I saw a Relaxed Performance recently (a performance where people who have all sorts of  behavior "along the spectrum" if you will, are encouraged to attend without feeling like they have to keep their physical or vocal behavior within the norms of most audience behavior), and it was brilliant. I've been pretty obsessed ever since with how traditional audiences behave. There are different implied contracts between the performer and audience in different contexts - i.e., at a comedy club people feel free to react vocally and directly, interrupting and heckling, where as at a "performance venue" the audience has sort of tacitly agreed to only about five responses: silence, laughter, crying, that person who inevitably thoughtfully goes, "Mmmm!"

Thankfully, I have been able to figure out a comeback while onstage. With Asking For It I feel so aware of the audiences tensions and weird feelings and so in control of that show. I've always understood exactly who I am and what to do onstage in that show. Also, when you're up there you sort of go in to survival mode, I think fight or flight type mechanisms kick in. I think I'm good in general in those situations.

Adrienne Truscott, Photo Credit: Carmine Covelli5. The description for THIS, ends with these three sentences: THIS is a run-on sentence. THIS is a gift. THIS is a piece of cake. So, for the next few questions, let's play with each of these. First, "THIS is a run-on sentence." What is something in your life you feel is like a run-on sentence? How my brain works a lot of the time. I've been told that as I start talking about one thing, I start putting it in context and relating it to other things, so I think the analytical part of my brain synthesizes lots of things at once in a slippery kind of way. The writing in THIS has a sort of "run-on sentence"/stream of consciousness aspect to it. Ohmygosh! I love your questions. I'm so glad you didn't just ask me if "I think you can make jokes about rape and why I do it with no pants on!" Which I've answered a thousand times!

6. Next we have, "THIS is a gift." What has been the best gift you have ever received? Oops! I have to correct you on that one, because the copy actually says "THIS is a grift." Which for me was sort of about if this performance, or any performance is a swindle or not. Or a game with the audience's expectations. Sometimes I think living as an independent artist, and the survival strategies you learn falls just on the "right" side of being a petty criminal! A grifter.

That said, I have been given many gifts in my life. The most recent favorites both have to do with art: an amazing grant; a life-size cardboard grand piano.

Adrienne Truscott, Photo Credit: Carmine Covelli7a. Lastly, "THIS is a piece of cake." I'm going to break this into two questions. First, what is something you find so easy to do? I guess one is to work on a lot of different art projects at once.I don't know if that's easy or just survival methods and the result of life as a freelance artist/performer. Also, solve problems.

7b. Second, what is your favorite kind of cake to eat? Hmmm, chocolate cake. Pure chocolate - meaning, I don't like when people fuck around with chocolate cake and put raspberries or something in it.

8. Who or what inspired you to become a comedian/writer/performer? Oh geez. I always loved comedy when I was little. Like, I would nearly die to watch Carol Burnett or Sonny and Cher (especially when Chastity would come out!) That REALLY dates me. And I cried after seeing Singin' In The Rain, because I realized I'd been born too late for that sort of thing (even though I was terrified of singing). But that was the kind of thing I always imagined doing, so it's funny to have instead become a frequently naked comic performance artist weirdo!

Adrienne Truscott, "Asking For It", Photo Credit: Sara Brown Photography9. I know I tried to focus on the new, but I can't do this interview without asking you one burning question I had when you were doing Asking For It. While the premise of that show was about rape and the title is a reflection of that, I'm going to take the title in a different direction. What is something that you are "asking for," still hoping to come true? I think about that a lot now that that phrase is such a part of my life. I think the thing that sticks with me is the power of that phrase meant literally, not as that bullshit excuse for someone else's violent behavior. I did a kickstarter to help me tour that show and it was a strange feeling for me to ask for money from other people to do something that was really important to me, and then I got it. And all this amazing support, and I thought. Wow, I just very simply and clearly asked for something I needed and I got it. So now, I try to think about that, when or if I am asking for something, versus hoping for something, and to be empowered by the notion of just asking for something and seeing if it comes back. It won't always, obviously, but. Right now, I would ask for a little more time to rest and recuperate between projects. But I think that's just something I have to ask of myself!

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? Water intake.

Adrienne Truscott, Photo Credit: Allison Michael OrensteinMore on Adrienne:

For more than 15 years, Adrienne Truscott—choreographer, circus acrobat, dancer, writer, and as of late, comedian—has been making genre-straddling work in New York City and abroad. She is one of 20 artists selected nationally as recipients for the Doris Duke Impact Artist Award. Her evening-length solo comedic work and group choreographic works have been presented variously at Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Just For Laughs, Darwin Festival, PS122, Joe’s Pub, The Kitchen, Dublin Fringe, Danspace, and Dance Theater Workshop among others.

The Wau Wau Sisters, her neo-vaudevillian collaboration with Tanya Gagne, have been presented by such iconic venues as the Sydney Opera House (Aus), Joe’s Pub and CBGB’s (NYC), Victoria Arts Center (Melbourne) and The Roundhouse (London). The Wau Wausisters are fixtures at among others, the Edinburgh, Melbourne, Brighton, Adelaide, Perth and Philadelphia Fringe Festivals and are seen regularly in the international sensations La Soiree and La Clique. Their contemporaries broadly recognize the influence of their radical and ludicrous take on circus and cabaret.

Adrienne has taught at Wesleyan University Dance Department as a visiting artist, and guest taught at Sarah Lawrence College’s Theater and Dance Departments and Yale Universtiy.

Wednesday
Dec072016

Call Answered: Samuel Shem: At The Heart of the Universe

Samuel ShemFamily means the world to me. I am very close with mine and would move mountains for them if I had to. When I heard Samuel Shem, best-selling author of The House of God, was releasing a new book I knew I had to give him a call. Luckily, Samuel answered.

At The Heart of the Universe, is a fictitious story, based upon Samuel's own experiences about the ups and downs of adoption, during the time of Mao's population control policies in China, and the drama that comes when two opposite ends of the world become inextricably intertwined. Click here to purchase the book!

For more on Samuel be sure to visit http://www.samuelshem.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

1. You just released your latest book, At The Heart of the Universe, inspired by your own adoption experience, chronicles the ups and downs of adoption, during the time of Mao's population control policies in China, and the drama that comes when two opposite ends of the world become inextricably intertwined. How did writing this book help you reconcile your feelings about what you went through personally? I wrote the novel because I had to. When my wife Janet Surrey and I and our ten year old daughter Katie were standing in the courtyard of the police in Changsha China where she had been abandoned as a one-month old, something happened! A woman walked across the courtyard into the police station and—of all the thousands of Chinese we’d seen so far—she had the same oval face as Katie, the same eyes the same glint of russet in her black hair—she looked just like Katie, and was the right age to be her birth mother. Janet and I, independently, noticed this. We got distracted, and later, when we went looking for her— she had vanished! We were so enraptured by the similarity, we told our van driver to try to find her. We drove around through alleyways and on big streets for a while. No luck. That was the seed of the novel. As Dylan says in his song "Up to Me," "Someone had to tell that tale, I guess it was up to me." Someone had to write this, and—having published novels and plays—that someone had to be me.

2. What do you hope people come away with after reading this book? As the author, I dare not say. Bu here’s what a few others who have reviewed it have said: Bill McKibben: "A gorgeous novel of particulars set against the fascinating backdrop of the Chinese mountains, and a hauntingly universal account of loss, gain, and new beginnings." And the Chinese/American writer Ha Jin: "A moving story that if full of understanding and psychological intensity. This large-hearted novel reaffirms the necessity of empathy, self-discovery, and love." And, finally, Abraham Verghese: "A poignant and tender novel about love, about parenting and the nature of home. This is a lovely, transformative story."

Janet, Katie, and Samuel Shem3. At The Heart of the Universe is described as "A journey of how we humans can walk with each other through suffering to heal." With what just happened with the election, the timing of this book seems all too perfect, in that, primarily we as a nation are walking around suffering while looking for ways to heal. Aside from that statement, how would you correlate what happens in this story with the results of this year's election? Ahhh! This election! Hey readers—this novel may help: it affirms, deeply, the joy that can come from walking through sharp differences, together, to understanding and, in this case, love. This is the story of how differences can either divide or connect. We in the USA are living in a nation that is fractured among many differences. By adopting a four-month old Chinese girl, very quickly we were opened up to difference—and as we went on we saw how difference, through love, can be turned into greater, stronger connection—of the shared human spirit. For instance, after our first month of looking into our baby’s Chinese eyes, when we went out and saw white babies, we thought: "How strange their eyes look." We had crossed a divide of perception—what was normal for us, then, was different from us, and it was who we were now. We were in a new normal. And we saw through her eyes the way sometimes people treated her: (to Janet) "You can’t be her mother!" And at a 5th grade visit to school we were startled to see, in her "Draw Your Family," two stick figures with white faces, and one dark brown. How surprised we were! The world of division opened up, and we embraced it. The terrible stresses in this country, mostly huge economic inequalities, don’t allow us to see differences as adding, rather than diminishing. The oppressing group can’t readily see the daily feeling-experience of the oppressed; the oppressed can often see clearly that of the oppressors—their lives literally depend on this clarity. Working in face-to-face live (not screen) dialogue through these differences is required—and actually, from all our work on the difference of gender, healing.

Samuel Shem4. In the book, Xiao Lu, gives birth to a baby girl, but with the laws the way they are in China at that time, can't keep her, so she abandons her in a pile of celery in a rural market, hoping someone who could care for her would find her. What do you think was going through her mind as she was making this decision? Here is what I wrote is going on in her head at the end of the first chapter:

"She takes the carefully calligraphed note and ties it firmly into the swaddling clothes and smells her one last time, that smell like no other, baby-soft and fragrant, like spring’s own hair, and puts her lips to the soft skin of her face her little nose her rosebud lips, and then she seems to float over the sidewalk over the dirt of the alley of the market crowded at noon and hiding the baby in a fold of her dress she goes straight to the vegetable stand trying to blend in and yes the celery is piled high and the stalks healthy and easily parted and, yes, safe, and she places the tiny bundle in the little nest she makes for her and without looking back rushes off, away, resolving not to watch what happens but then at a safe distance from behind the pile of iron and tires and pumps of the bicycle-repair stall, she watches. It takes no time at all. Vegetable sellers know their vegetables. She watches a short, stout woman wearing a blue bandanna go to rearrange the celery and suddenly look down, recoil, look again, and realize, and pick up the baby and shout:

"Whose baby? Whose baby?" People turn to look. "Whose baby?"

Mine! To keep this from escaping she puts a fist to her mouth, jams it hard, smashing her lips against her teeth.

"Whose baby?" the woman shouts. People stare, look around for the mother.

Mine! Fist to her mouth, she turns away.

"Whose baby whose baby?" echoes and echoes.

Turns back, blood on her hand now, on her fist.

"Whose baby whose baby whose babywhosebabywhosebaby . . ."

Turns away, huddles up inside, crouches over as if the fist is coming down on her head, her back, her belly, runs away.

Samuel Shem and his wife Janet5. Later in the book, it's revealed that when the adoptive parents return to China with their daughter, 10 years after they adopted her, they find the birth mother living alone in a forest. How do you think the decision of Xiao abandoning her daughter like that, sort of caused her life to lead her to a place of loneliness and despair? The birth mother is so overwhelmed by the horror of abandoning her beloved that for years she refuses to get pregnant again—to try for a boy, who would be valued by the husband’s farming family, because boys stay and work the farm, while girls leave to get married—and she is ostracized. Finally, after years of suffering in the family, she flees to the wilderness of a sacred mountain, thinks of suicide, but survives, and works a caretaking job at a Buddhist Temple. She lives alone on the mountain in a tiny, old stone hermitage, and she makes friends with the deer, and the birds, and, as her loneliness turns to solitude, returns to her girlhood talent, for calligraphy—trying to heal from this profound wound.

6. Going back to your own story, what was it like when you were visiting China with your daughter and you found out the birth mother wanted her to stay and she kind of wanted to as well? How did you get through that? This is a novel. We did not meet the birth mother. Of the hundreds of thousands of internationally adopted Chinese, almost zero meet the birth mother. That’s another reason I was called to write this novel—to fill the big blank space. As our daughter put it, at age eight, "It’s like my life is a movie, but I don’t know the first part of it."

Samuel Shem7. What did you learn about yourself from writing this book that you didn't know beforehand? In a way, everything! I’ve been a writer for five decades, and I’ve learned that the only way that I really, deeply learn from writing (and from good mutual relationships) is how to live and write on my edge. (What could be more audacious, trying to write with Shakespeare on the shelf, taunting you with astonishing lines like "parting is such sweet sorrow.") This story demanded I write it, and writing it demanded I live on the edge of all of it, in my experience in China and in the USA, over a decade of our daughter’s life, writing a draft and reaching my edge and putting it away for a year or more, picking it up wiser, an edge further, and so forth. Seven drafts worth. I read everything I could about all these Chinese things—and we took in Chinese graduate students to live with us and after a while the magic worked. I also learned that I could write in the present tense in the heads of four main characters—the edge of my technical ability—which, I am grateful to say, I learned from the modern master, my dear late best friend John Updike. I jumped in whole-heartedly, and came out with an even more full heart. A novel may or may not be true, but it is—and this one is—real.  Oh, and the grad students? We asked them to teach Katie Chinese. She refused--"All my friends are taking Spanish"—but she taught the grad students English!

Samuel Shem at SoHo Playhouse8. Everyone says that becoming a parent changes you. How did becoming a parent change you? I got a little wiser and kinder, and accepting. Not totally, of course—I had to stay deeply flawed enough to write novels. I found out that the two reasons that I write are:

1) to resist injustice, do good in the world

2) to show the danger of isolation and the healing power of good connection.

All of my eight novels and plays and non-fiction and speeches are about just that. Last year’s novel/commentary I wrote with my wife Janet Surrey—THE BUDDHA’S WIFE: A PATH OF AWAKENING TOGETHER—and my novel THE SPIRIT OF THE PLACE—are more explicitly about that theme. And my first novel, THE HOUSE OF GOD—about medical internship, as well. (It  was just named by Publishers Weekly in its list of "The 10 Best Satires of All Time" Number 2)

9. What advice would you have for parents going through the adoption process that you wish you had? It’s not easy, and you have to persist—Janet and I at one point labeled the process: "The Adoption Olympics." But follow your heart, and you will find the baby meant for you. There is how a remarkable story about how "our baby" was "meant" for us, at the center of the novel.

10. What is something your daughter has taught you? Along with my decades-long year relationship with Janet, Katie has taught me just about everything human of value at my core. And, because of her love of animals, she taught me how incredibly much I could love a dog. I’m talkin’ really love a dog. And he’s getting old!

Samuel ShemMore on Samuel:

Best-selling and literary-award-winning novelist Samuel Shem is known as the author of the three million copy–selling modern classic, The House of God, recently named second on Publishers Weekly’s list of "The 10 Best Satires of All Time." A visiting Artist/Scholar at the American Academy in Rome, a Rhodes Scholar and Harvard Medical School faculty member for over three decades, Samuel is currently a Professor of Medical Humanities and Literature at NYU Medical School. He has given over sixty medical school commencement addresses on "Staying Human in Medicine,” and has been described in the press as "Easily the finest and most important writer ever to focus on the lives of doctors and the world of medicine." His other books include The Spirit of the Place, named 2009 USA Book News Best Novel of the Year as well as Independent Publishers Best Novel of the Year. His award-winning play Bill W. and Dr. Bob, co-written with his wife Janet Surrey about the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, ran for ten months Off-Broadway in 2013. Surrey and Shem are co--authors of the 2015 book The Buddha's Wife: The Path of Awakening Together. He lives in Boston, New York, and Costa Rica, together with Janet and their daughter Katie. Follow Shem on Facebook, and read about his upcoming events at www.samuelshem.wordpress.com.

Saturday
Nov052016

Call Answered: Masiela Lusha: Sharknado: The 4th Awakens, George Lopez Show, The Living Air

Masiela Lusha, Photo credit: Fadil BerishaI love the Sharknado TV movies. Yes, it's because Ian Ziering starred in them and that's what sucked me in. I also love people who can express themselves through writing. I've been a writer my whole life and am overjoyed with the fact I get to do it everyday with "Call Me Adam." Both these passions lead us to Masiela Lusha, actress, writer, and wife. When Masiela was brought to my attention, I fell in love with her story...leaving her home in Albania as a refugee at the age of four and making her dreams come true as an actress, including her breakout role as "Carmen Consuela Lopez" on ABC's George Lopez show.

Most recently, Masiela was seeing as "Gemini" in Sharknado: The 4th Awakens and her latest book of poems is set to be released on November 19 entitled The Living Air.

For more on Masiela follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Masiela Lusha, Photo credit: Fadil Berisha1. Who or what inspired you to become an actress/writer? While some mothers sing lullabies to their children, my mother read me her poetry. As a result, I consider poetry as the most authentic and intimate way of connecting with another person. It is a form of art that does not require rules to breathe; it simply requires a desire to connect on one’s own terms and understanding and can be reevaluated with each new experience. Because one poem can be read in an infinite number of ways, and be translated through many, even contradictory, emotions depending on the reader’s vicissitudes of experiences, I consider poetry to have absolutely no boundaries, and to be the bedrock of honesty.

2. You were born in Albania, but left as a refugee when you were just four years old. What do you remember about that time? My earliest memories as a refugee are on a bus, being driven to Hungary with the other refugee families. We were lead to believe that our bus was threatened with a bomb while exiting Albania. I remember the faces, American volunteers from the Red Cross. Upon hearing of the threat, I later learned that they had put their lives on the line to sit by the window, striving to ensure a safe escape out of the turmoil that engulfed our beautiful country at the time. This selflessness, this sense of humanity aimed at us has been the catalysis behind my humanitarian efforts throughout my life. I never feel I am doing enough to ensure safety and comfort for families in our society, there is always more that I can do. After all, I owe my life to complete strangers who simply disappeared after their assistance, like angels.

Masiela Lusha as "Carmen Consuela Lopez" on ABC's "George Lopez"3. You are known for starring as "Carmen Consuela Lopez" on ABC's George Lopez show which aired from 2002-2007. What was it like to be on a hit show? Where were your top three favorite moments on that show? How did you adjust to the recognition that came with being on such a popular show? I spent my most formative years on the George Lopez show, learning from an early age how to navigate a series, while also learning how to navigate simply being a teenager. My favorite moment consistently every week was hearing the audience find their seats and cheer near the stage. From behind the curtain, their energy was electric, and the fuel behind my enthusiasm to dive into our scenes. My other favorite moment was turning 18 on the show, with the audience there to celebrate with us. George and his family carried out a puppy during the birthday song. It was a birthday I will never forget, and to this day, my absolute favorite. My other favorite moment was filming the very honest and raw scenes as "Carmen." "Carmen" endured a lot during her growth on the show, and performing the real emotions of a teenage girl, questioning her identity, her worth, was the most rewarding experience for me as an actress. To this day, I am approached about "Carmen" being more than a sitcom character; for many girls, including myself, she was a beacon of sincerity, shining truth about American life during those thoughtful storylines. On a number of occasions, young fans would hug me, crying, revealing that they never felt understood in their life but watching "Carmen" go through the same experience helped them through a difficult time, and made them feel included in something.

Masiela Lusha and Ian Ziering in "Sharknado: The 4th Awakens"4. You also starred in Sharknado 4 alongside Ian Ziering. What was it like to be the newcomer in a franchise that already had three previous movies? What was the best part about being in this film and what were some of the more challenging moments? As someone who performed her own stunts, how do you decide which ones you are going to do? Do you ever worry it will be too much? I was apprehensive about stepping into an already defined family unit. Especially since my character, "Gemini," wasn’t fully fleshed out during the first few days of filming. She was written as the babysitter, then re-written as the family friend, then eventually a "Shepard" family member. This was the journey Anthony Ferrante, the director, and I took together, defining this girl and her purpose within the Sharknado family. I have to say, however, there was not one day that I did not feel completely welcome on set, as if I've worked with the cast many films prior. It was an incredible experience to immediately belong and this feeling made filming that much more rewarding.

My favorite stunt has to be diving off 855 feet from the Stratosphere Hotel in Vegas. It felt like a little victory because leading up to the stunt, from the first week of filming, I was assured that I could not do this, that I would not, that I would be far too afraid. I am one of those oddballs that immediately commits to something when others determine it impossible. Perhaps the producers sensed this, and used it to my advantage, or perhaps they sincerely thought I could not jump off the hotel. Either way, 4am, there was I was peering down the Vegas skyline, strapped in with wires, realizing how much I love my job. Anthony requested that I not scream as I dive down, and we ended up filming it twice. Not that scary, and I have yet to commit to a stunt that truly worries me. Knock Knock.

5. In addition to acting, you are also an author of your poetry. What do you get from being a writer that you don't get from being an actress? I feel fortunate to have multiple avenues of expression. I feel acting and writing complement each other quite seamlessly. As an actress, it is my duty to close read the script, find the hidden meaning behind each line of dialogue, find the symbolism in each object, piece of clothing worn, and plot twist that my character endures. Poetry is close reading as well. One must read each line deliberately and with intention. No word is by accident or loose enough to strike out from the poem. I consider acting just as sacred. Each line must be lived with intention, with purpose, and with an overarching mission that stitches the whole script together. Each object carried by the character has its own wealth of wisdom, backstory, and meaning. When I need to cleanse a character out of my system after we wrap, I often write a poem, framing my feelings into an experience. It’s my way of letting it go. When I build a character, I often write her diary as a poem. It simply opens up her world more easily for me.

6. Your latest book of poetry, The Living Air is about to be released on November 19. What is like to put your poetry out there? Do you ever feel exposed and worried as to how people might react? What is it like to hear from your fans? I always feel vulnerable talking about my poems. They are little diary entries for me, and I am both mortified and relieved if a reader can tap into the inner mechanics of the poem and discover its truth as I personally intended. That’s always terrifying. Though, I would like to think that each poem carries a unique fingerprint for each reader who can interpret its words and rhythm in an authentic way that fits perfectly into his or her own life. In this way, I value poems as a medium for healing and expanding on some inner understanding. Hearing my fans write about my poems, and how they interpret the message, and how it made them feel is an experience I cannot articulate in words. It feels like fulfillment wrapped up in understanding and sheer appreciation. That’s the only way I can describe it. Their healing is the reason why I continue to write. I believe art serves a purpose that transcends the moment. It should exist as energy for healing and growth, defining our time and our philosophy as a society for decades to come. Art is the true ambassador of time.

Masiela Lusha and her husband Ramzi, Photo credit: Fadil Berisha7. You also recently got married. How did you and your husband meet? When did you know he was the one? What's it like being a wife and having to balance family and work? How do you do it all? I knew from the day I met him we would marry, though I waited for him to admit this, and propose :) Through trial and error, I’ve learned that the best balance for family and a career is routine, and carving out an intractable schedule for family time. For me, this means always enjoying dinner and breakfast together. Ramzi traveling for a day to watch me film also fulfills a purpose. It allows us to be on the same wavelength and experience, even just for a moment.

No one offers a handbook on how to be a good wife. We’ve learned that any mundane or truly difficult conversation can and should be approached with a purpose to heal and grow together. No topic is off limits for us, and I find this to be our greatest strength. Our connection as a couple is living the same reality together, with an innate understanding of each other’s inner process. We both try to fully immerse ourselves in each other's lives, by asking specific questions, and not settling for vague responses.

Masiela Lusha, Photo credit: Fadil Berisha8. As if acting and writing aren't enough, you are also quite the chef! When did you fall in love with cooking? What are some of your favorite dishes? If you had to cook a dish for a successful life, what ingredients would you put in that dish? Oddly, before Ramzi and I married, I was suspicious of boiling water. I was convinced that to boil water, one must add salt, perhaps, anything but just water. Then I took it upon myself to cook one new dish a day for a year, until I could confidently prepare a meal without a recipe book or measuring cups. Another desire of mine was to cook international meals, because Ramzi and I both come from internationally diverse cultures. We’re also health oriented so I rarely prepare dishes with carbs. When I prepare my favorite All-American burger, it’s sandwiched between sweet potato buns. Stir-fry is usually prepared with grated cauliflower, which tastes just as delicious as rice! And when I’m baking pizza, its usually with cauliflower dough. My favorite recipe has to be the simplest with only 2.5 ingredients. It’s Macaroons. One standard bag of sweetened coconut flakes, one can of condensed milk, and a dash of vanilla. Mix and roll each serving into an 2'' ball and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. By far, a universal favorite. Often, my friends devour the pan of macaroons before they’re cool enough to place on a platter and eat.

My recipe for life would be 2 cups of passion, and a dash of courage, baked with intention, and served with love :)

9. What is something about Masiela that you haven't revealed to your fans that you would like to share with them? I read predominantly nonfiction and rarely read novels unless they are based on true stories. I often read two to three books at a time.

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? That’s a really good approach and question! I believe each of us carries positive intentions, even in the most toxic disagreements. I do not believe for one moment that anyone actively chooses to be an antagonist in life. I attempt to expand my understanding and appreciation for other people’s struggles each and every day. Communicating with various personalities, it can be far too easy to close off into a preset expectation of what their inner workings and intentions are, and as a result it can be far too easy to settle as the victim. I make an active choice to breathe during confrontations and imagine what their struggles are to lead them to this conversation. What could the underlying misunderstanding be to lead to such a big disagreement by two people who do not consider themselves to be such negative energy? My greatest growth comes from never accepting the victim role. Never. We all have the power to contribute to a positive or negative experience. While we cannot predict or change a person’s behavior, we have the bigger power of reacting, redefining, and reorienting the result.

Masiela LushaMore on Masiela:

Masiela Lusha is an American actress, author, producer, and humanitarian. She is best known from her first major role as "Carmen Consuela" Lopez on the ABC’s globally syndicated sitcom George Lopez; a role which earned her two consecutive Young Artist Awards for Leading Young Actress in a Comedy or Drama. She immigrated to America with her mother at a young age. English is Masiela's fourth language and at the tender age of twelve, Masiela began a modeling career in Michigan. After a few months of professional modeling and acting, a Hollywood agent discovered her from an open call. From there, she and her family moved to Los Angeles. Upon moving to LA, she did print work with Ben Affleck, was featured in a multi-national back-to-school JCPenny commercial, and starred in Alanis Morissette's music video, "Hands Clean."

Masiela’s transition into film include starring roles in Sony Picture's Blood: The Last Vampire and SyFy's television movie Sharknado: The 4th Awakens. Other projects include Anger Management (2014), Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2006), Clifford Puppy Days (2003) Lizzie McGuire (2001).

In 2010, Masiela was appointed Ambassador of Prince Harry’s charity, Sentebale. The cause helps vulnerable children in Lesotho, Africa through various grassroots efforts. Her humanitarian passions involve women’s rights and children’s rights. Masiela was also appointed as an Goodwill Ambassador for World Assembly Of Youth.

As an author, Masiela has written four books of poetry, Inner Thoughts, Drinking the Moon, Amore Celeste, The Call, a novel The Besa, and two children's books. Masiela has also written and translated poetry in English and Albanian. She has also translated poems and prayers by Mother Teresa. Currently, Masiela is set to star in the upcoming Lifetime dramatic thriller Forgetten Evil.

Wednesday
Oct052016

Call Answered: Andy Phillips: Words, a short film

Andy PhillipsI first came to know Andy Phillips when I took his spin classes at SWERVE Fitness in NYC. I immediately fell for Andy's teaching style - energetic, supportive, and encouraging! Then I found out Andy was an actor, writer, and director and I couldn't wait to see what he did in that arena. Well, Andy left NY for a bit to go make his film Words and I couldn't wait to see it. 

I had a good friend in high school who had a stuttering issue. All through high school she struggled with it. It wasn't until college, that she learned how to combat her stuttering & and speak without it. Fast forward to Andy's film Words, an incredibly inspiring film about stuttering, poetry, and achieving your dreams! You bet I thought of my friend.

Words has already been featured in Cannes International Film Festival, Cayman International Film Festival, Louisiana International Film Festival, and New Filmmakers New York. Now, out of 1,000 films, Words has been selected as one of the Top 50 Shorts at the InShorts Film Festival in London on October 21 and as a Finalist in the Short Film Competition at the Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival November 4-5 in Austin, TX!

For more on Andy visit http://www.actorandyphillips.com and follow him on Facebook!

1. Your short film Words tells the story of "William," who is searching for the courage to overcome his stutter and share his poetic gift. What influenced you to write this film? The story of Words really evolved throughout the development process but I guess the genesis of it was pretty simple with the combination of a couple ideas. Initially I was inspired by a neighbor I had growing up, Bobby, who had a stutter and still does. He is one of the funniest and smartest guys I know and he's never let his stutter inhibit his talents as a writer, software developer, husband, or father. I also love Spoken Word poetry and really wanted to do something highlighting the style of the poetry club scene I had experienced in New York. Putting those two concepts together I asked myself what if my creative expression was through some kind of outlet that I was either petrified of doing or physically unable to do? Those thoughts eventually led me to what would become "William's" stutter and poetic ambitions.

2. Not only did you write and direct Words, but you also star in it. What was it like to write, direct, and star in your own film? How did you stay objective with the creative process being all three positions? Preparation, flexibility, and teamwork. Filmmaking is a team sport and I can't say enough about the team we had. They made it possible for me to wear multiple hats without going completely insane. We rehearsed with most of the cast in New York so by the time we were on location in New Orleans there was already a beautiful chemistry. The crew in New Orleans was absolutely fantastic. They all went above and beyond to bring this story to life. And then our post production team in New York worked tirelessly to ensure everything looked and sounded great. To see this idea that I had conjured up in my mind brought to fruition through the collaboration of so many amazing artists was humbling and wildly exhilarating.

Andy Phillips as "William" in "Words"3. Words is making it's way around the world in various film festivals from Cannes to Cayman International Film Festival to the Louisiana International Film Festival to New Filmmakers New York. Now, Words will be in the InShort Film Festival in London & it's a finalist at the Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival in Austin, TX in November. I can see why everyone is clamoring to accept this film into their festival. With all this screenings and publicity, what is like to see this film, which you created from infancy have this kind of life and resonate with so many people?Words is about having a dream and finding the courage to go after it. It's exciting hearing how audiences relate to that. I've had a lot of people talk to me after screenings about their own struggles with stuttering, which is really special. Statically over 70 million people in the world have some form of stutter, yet unfortunately they are rarely represented in entertainment. Even rarer is for them to be represented with dignity, empathy, or strength. When we first premiered in Louisiana a young lady came up with tears in her eyes and thanked me for telling her story. That meant a lot and was all the affirmation I needed.

Andy Phillips as "William" in "Words"4. How did you prepare for the role of "William"? What do you relate to most about "William"? What is one characteristic of his that you wished you had? Mostly I wanted to talk to people who stutter and hear about their own journey with it. I met with Taro Alexander, the founder of Say.org, an incredible non-profit in NYC that hosts after-school programs and summer camps for kids who stutter. I interviewed members of the National Stuttering Association, Speech Pathologists, and people from all walks of life who have experience with stuttering. I learned that it didn't discriminate and that no two stutters were the same. That was freeing in creating the character. Then I hung out around the Bowery Poetry Club and The Nuyorican Cafe, which is a spoken word institution in New York. I needed to understand the energy of the performers and the kind of vibe that those venues have.

I relate to "William's" need to express himself. And I wish I had his ability to let things boil over. I think it's good to lose it every now and then. But I tend to keep the lid on.

Andy Phillips as "William" and Miia Ashley as "Elaine" in "Words"5. "William" stutters and that affects many aspects of his life. What is something in your life you feel is stuttered, but you wish it could be more fluent? I love to cook but pretty much specialize in scrambled eggs and fruit smoothies. I'd love to take my kitchen skills to the next level.

6. In Words, "William" runs away from public speaking. What have you run away from in your life that you would really like to combat? Having just relocated to LA from NYC, I haven't driven in years. I am now regretting never learning any kind of mechanical skills and would really like to combat that right about now!

Miia Ashley as "Elaine" in "Words"7. "William" has a fear of public speaking because of his stuttering, but his friend "Elaine" really pushes him to overcome is fears. Who, in your life, pushes you to overcome your fears? "Elaine's" character is actually based on an incredible teacher I had in undergrad, Reuben Mitchell. He is the reason I became an actor. He was the first person in my life to see the dream I had and work with me to help cultivate my craft. Like "Elaine," Reuben just knew which buttons to press to bring out the best in me. His belief in me was affirming and gave me the courage to pursue my dream. Tragically Reuben passed away a few years ago in a motorcycle accident, but he continues to inspire me. And somehow his memory and presence will always give me courage to overcome any fears.

8. One theme that ran through the movie, I felt, was the issue of privacy. Everyone kept looking through "William's" journal, invading his privacy. When has your privacy been invaded and how did you get it back? That's really cool that you noticed that. I guess I'm lucky because I don't think my privacy has every truly been invaded. But I will say that that particular component of the film is rather autobiographical of my own journey in working to build the courage to share my art. For the longest time I hated anybody reading my work or watching me in a film or play. It's a vulnerable thing to open yourself up to criticism. It just took time for me to become comfortable enough to express myself freely despite fear of judgment.

Scenic view of New Orleans from "Words"9. Words was filmed in your home state of Louisiana. Why did you want the film to take place here and what was it like to now see your home through the eyes of the camera lens? It was a dream come true. I've always wanted to return home to shoot a film and hope to have the opportunity to do so again. Louisiana is just so culturally rich and New Orleans provides a soulful backdrop to the story. Seeing the city through the camera lens is special because it's so sensorial - you can hear the music, feel the heat, and taste the flavors. The energy is palpable.

10. As someone who influenced the creation of this section, I need to ask you the question I ask everyone! On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I love that! It took me over a year chipping away at Words little by little before anything even got off the ground. So I firmly believe in the consistent little steps or like you call it, the 1% percent everyday, to achieve your goals. Recently I've been working on patience. Writing and working out are my meditation and usually help get my mind right to keep things in perspective. If I can manage do at least one of those everyday, I'd say I'm on track to my daily 1% improvement.

Andy PhillipsMore on Andy:

Director Andy Phillips fell in love with movies at an early age in large part due to his father's rather premature introduction to the great comedies of the late '70s & early 80's including The Jerk, Stripes, The Blues Brothers, Animal House, and many others. With such influences, Andy spent much of his elementary and high school years writing and filming sketches with friends. He eventually moved to New York City to study and perform at The Upright Citizens Brigade and then ultimately went on to earn his MFA from The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University. Originally form Louisiana, Andy now lives in LA and is the founder of Y'ALL MEDIA, a narrative film production company with a focus on telling diverse stories through strong artistic collaboration.